The top hockey and skating shops in Toronto offer a wider selection and more knowledgeable staff than many of the chain stores that also stock such equipment. Places like Canadian Tire and Sport Chek will always be decent stores at which to outfit a young houseleaguer or a weeknight warrior, but there are limits to their selection for those looking for high performance gear. The same holds true for the pro shops at some of Toronto's top arenas when it comes to selection.
To some extent, though, it is really staff expertise that you get at the best shops that makes the biggest difference. It's imperative that your equipment fits properly - especially your skates - and it's not always easy to make decisions on size without a guiding hand. Ditto for skate sharpening. I never liked trusting the arena pro shop to sharpen my skates, having found that the speciality shops did a much better job and were willing to work with me to accommodate my preferences (I've always like my skates to have a significant hollow).
Here are my picks for the top hockey and skating shops in Toronto.
Just Hockey has been Toronto's go-to shop for high end hockey equipment since as long as I can remember. I recall drooling over Graf skates there before all the rich kids started wearing them. With two locations (Don Mills and Steeles), a wide selection of brands, and top notch skate sharpening (they've always been happy to do mine 3/8 "), it's not surprise that everyone from Triple A GTHL players to men's league warriors shop here.
The definition of a megastore, Pro Hockey Life is better stocked that any other store in GTA. The sprawling shop at Vaughan Mills is a particular boon for goalies, who are often hard-up for equipment selection. What do they carry? Basically everything. And it's not all high end, either. Beginner hockey players can be outfitted with reasonably priced equipment as well.
This unassuming storefront near Bloor and Dundas opens into a 4, 000 square foot retail space, jam packed with hockey equipment from Bauer, Reebok, CCM, Graf and Easton. The skate sharpening is expert-level, and the goalie equipment selection is well above average thanks to sister business Goalie Heaven, which is both an online store and run out of this location.
I bought a lot of equipment at National Sports over the years when there was a location near Yonge and Sheppard. The Scarborough location still carries the flame as far as Toronto-based stores go (there are plenty of others scattered around the province). National gets points for an abundance of mid-range gear, the type of stuff a rec player would be interested in if he/she was buying new. Brands include Bauer, CCM, Reebok and Easton.
Quite possibly one of the best figure skating-focused stores in the world, this online shop and boutique on Yonge south of Steeles is a one-stop destination for everyone from young kids trying out the sport for the first time to athletes in our national program. There's even a used skate program. You don't really need to look anywhere else.